Laser treatment could cure Alzheimer's

8 November 2013

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden and the Polish Wroclaw University of Technology, have discovered a technique to distinguish disease-causing proteins in the brain from normal proteins using lasers.

The discovery could lead to the curing of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (mad cow disease) through phototherapy.

These diseases arise when amyloid beta proteins are aggregated in large quantities so they start to inhibit proper cellular processes. Different proteins create different kinds of amyloids, but they generally have the same structure.  

The researchers discovered that it is possible to distinguish aggregations of amyloid proteins from the the well functioning proteins in the brain by using a multi-photon laser technique.

Drawing of a normal protein and an amyloid

“Nobody has talked about using only light to treat these diseases until now. This is a totally new approach and we believe that this might become a breakthrough in the research of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. We have found a totally new way of discovering these structures using just laser light”, says Piotr Hanczyc at Chalmers University of Technology.

The researchers now hope that photo acoustic therapy, which is already used for tomography, may be used to remove the malfunctioning proteins without damaging the surrounding tissue. Currently, amyloid protein aggregates are treated with chemicals, both for detection as well as removal. These chemicals are highly toxic and harmful for those treated. With multi-photon laser treatment the chemical treatment would be unnecessary. Nor would surgery be necessary for removing of aggregates.


Piotr Hanczyc, Marek Samoc and Bengt Norden. Multi-photon Absorption in amyloid protein fibre. Nature Photonics.


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